PLYMOUTH — In just its first year of existence, the Catawba Valley Community College bass fishing team already has its first national representative.
Red Hawks angler Nathan Dellinger won the non-boater division of the B.A.S.S. North Carolina State Team Qualifier on the Roanoke River last weekend, qualifying for the 2020 North Carolina BASS State Team.
“Going to college is a dream come true even at the age of 36. It is never too late to get an education. However, going to college and getting to do something you have a passion for is beyond a dream,” Dellinger said. “I have always had a passion for bass fishing and never thought I would have a chance to fish on a college team. Coming out of this tournament with a win and being the first student to represent CVCC on the state team is an awesome feeling — way more than I expected. I would like to say thanks to my coaches Angela and John (Mayo) as well as my awesome teammates for pushing each other to do our best. We have a ton of motivation and support behind the team with my wife being the biggest fan.”
Dellinger won the event despite a slow start, which included battery issues in the boat of the angler he was partnered with, David Swain.
Fighting through those issues and also a mild cold front, Dellinger finished the first day of competition on Friday in seventh place, catching two bass for a total weight of 5.05 pounds.
His first day finish put him only 1.2 pounds away from second place.
“After seeing the day one results, I knew I was not out of it yet,” Dellinger said. “We had three other guys from CVCC still in contention to finish in the top three. We all try to help each other. That’s what teammates do. So we all conversed back at the hotel about how our day went and what we are going to do different for day two. I just wanted to be relaxed and just go fishing. That’s what I did.”
Feeding off his day one results, Dellinger responded in a big way, catching five bass with a total weight of 21 pounds, finishing the tournament with a total weight of 26.05 pounds — more than 8 pounds ahead of second place.
“I knew I needed to have a decent day — roughly 15 pounds to earn a spot on the state team,” Dellinger said. “We made about a 25-mile run up the Roanoke River to Williamston where we put the trolling motor down and started flipping. We started off slow catching a lot of smaller fish. The bigger bites were far and few between at least from the first part of the morning.”
Most of Dellinger’s day two success started to happen around 9 a.m. when he and Swain figured out where the larger fish would be.
“The keeper fish were up shallow on logs that were close to deep water,” Dellinger said. “When we figured that out, I knew it was going to be a good day on the water. We would come up to a log on a bank that fit the description and one of us would say that ‘there is going to be a fish right there.’ That’s when it really started to happen for me.”
Dellinger caught two more fish that were just over 5 pounds and another that was 4 pounds. He also improved on an earlier catch, replacing a 14-inch bass with a 15-inch bass.
“At that time, I didn’t realize how much weight I actually had,” Dellinger said. “I thought I had somewhere around 17 pounds. As we were on the way back to the boat ramp to weigh our fish, I started thinking about the fish I had in the live well, adding the weights up in my head. It was 20 pounds. There is just no way I have 20 pounds.”
When the results came in, Dellinger’s calculation was right.
He was only one of three anglers who caught more than 10 pounds of bass on either of the first two days of competition.
“We pulled up at the dock and tied off. All my teammates were there waiting to see what I was going to pull out of the live well,” Dellinger said. “I opened the live well and began to put my fish in the weigh bag — one 5-pounder, two 5-pounders, three 5-pounders. My teammates were so excited that someone from CVCC had a chance to make the top three. When I went to the scales, the weigh master dumped my fish out in the sink and said ‘wow, this is going to be a good bag.’ They sat them on the scales and said 21 pounds even with a 5.59-pound big fish. Having no idea of how things were going to shake out, I was excited that I busted 21 pounds.”
Dellinger’s performance highlighted a CVCC bass team that had six total anglers finish among the top 20 at tournament and four of those among the top 10 finishers, including Garrett Poovey in fifth place, Adam Seagle in eighth place, Jeremy Dellinger in ninth place, Lane Bailey in 15th place and Caleb Lonca in 18th place.
“I am extremely pleased with the results of the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation State Team Qualifier,” said CVCC bass fishing coach Angela Mayo. “The Roanoke River is unlike any body of water that our anglers have fished before, and I felt this would be an excellent opportunity for our team to gain some valuable experience fishing a tournament on unfamiliar water.”
With his win, Dellinger, along with Mayo and 18 other anglers from across the state, will travel to Florida to compete in the B.A.S.S. Nation Southeast Divisional.
The top boater and top co-angler from each state will move on to the B.A.S.S. Nation National Championship.
The CVCC bass fishing team returns to action on Oct. 12 for an intrasquad tournament before preparing for its biggest tournament of the fall — the Fishing League Worldwide College Series on Nov. 1 on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina.